NEW DELHI - The head of India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), tipped to win ongoing national elections, has ruled out any change in the country’s “no-first-use” nuclear weapons policy.
The BJP sparked speculation about an end to the doctrine last week when its manifesto said that the party would “revise and update” India’s policy.
“The no-first-use policy for nuclear weapons was a well thought out stand... We don’t intend to reverse it,” BJP President Rajnath Singh told the Hindustan Times newspaper in an interview published Monday.
The policy was adopted after a series of nuclear tests in 1998 during the last BJP-led coalition government which led to international condemnation and an embargo being placed on the country by Western powers.
The policy was intended to gain India greater acceptability as a nuclear power, despite it not being a signatory of the 1970 UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The BJP is predicted to clinch power under elections which began on April 7 and end with results on May 16. Any BJP government under hardline prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, a proud nationalist promising strong leadership, is expected to have a more muscular foreign policy.
Neither reacted to news of the possible review and analysts have pointed out that the “no-first-use” policy is a mere promise that could be ignored by New Delhi in a conflict situation.
China was the first country to adopt the “no-first-use” nuclear policy in 1964, but nuclear-rival Pakistan, with whom India has fought three wars, does not have a similar position.